Mobile Learning: It Takes a Village

Robin Robinson, Director of Education Technology and Support
Clair Waterbury, Instructional Technologist
Framingham State University

Backchannel –

The Background

About Framingham:

  • 175 years in 2014
  • 20 miles West of Boston (metro West)
  • 6506 students – 4489 Undergrads, 2017 Grad Students
  • Blackboard Users since 2000
  • Liberal Arts College
  • Undergrad Laptop Requirement started in 1998
  • State University
  • Faculty Union

The need was clear, students were bringing more mobile devices to campus, and faculty were beginning to ask to use mobile devices (iPads). One biology instructor wanted to use tablets and mobile technology to be more green in her courses. She wanted to have iPads to use in class, with apps on them.

The Approach at Framingham:

  1. Assembled a team
  2. Create a process
  3. Identify resources
  4. Build support (from faculty, upper management, …)
  5. Define policies and procedures

Mobile Task Force:

  • Operations: Policy, Procedure and Support (define what a mobile device is, at Framingham it was a kindle, Android, iOS Device, and Windows Device)
  • Our Mobile Footprint
  • Teaching and Learning Environment

The Village:

The Village at Framingham

The Approach: Innovative Grants

  • Develop technology proficiency
  • Design new instructional strategies
  • Improve teaching effectiveness
  • Increase student learning
  • Limited resources

Success Stories:

  • Community Building (cross departmental communication and collaboration)
  • Integration into the Curriculum
  • Mobile Task Force
  • Tablet Breakfasts (would sit over breakfast with faculty and tablets, personal connections happened and so did sharing of Apps)
  • Innovation Grants

Mobile Presence Currently:

  • The students adopted Bb Mobile Learn before the University did.
  • FSU Go Guide
  • FSUgo – mobile web application


  • Art Education: Art teacher students will learn how to teach art with mobile devices (tablets).
  • Computer Animation: The goal was to have students do more work with their mobile devices to animate. The Mac lab is very confining, there are 5 Macs and 10 students.
  • Social Media: Victorian Literature, engaged students in victorian literature by using tablets in creative ways.
  • Graphic Novels: Original goal was to have students create iBooks in iPads. It is necessary to use the Mac to create iBooks which then can be viewed on iPads.
  • Student Engagement: Faculty Champion

The Details

iPad Pilot 2012-2013: Mobile Engagement

Fall Semester:

  • Hardcopy text
  • eBook on laptop (only a few were originally willing to use the eBook on their laptop)
  • eBook on iPad
  • Free Apps only
  • Pearson Platform

Spring Semester:

  • Instructor selected iBook
  • Institution purchased apps, Apple Suite
  • Text on CourseSmart
  • Took volunteers, everyone had an iPad in the classroom, true 1-to-1 experience

The Results:

  • Blackboard Mobile University License was purchased
  • Evernote Electronic Lab notebook
    • a faculty member purchased a one year subscription to Evernote which allowed her to share out notebooks. Pictures, videos, and images can all be added to notebooks.
  • Mobile Task Force
  • Creation on Web App: FSU Go

Tablet Grant 2013-2014: Mobile Engagement Comparison

In this grant, during the first semester, 1/2 of the students were given iPads and 1/2 were given Lenovo ThinkPad Tablets. The second semester, they allowed students to choose, and the majority of students opted to use iPads. The other technology used:

  • Camtasia
  • Poll Everywhere
  • Dropbox
  • Blackboard Mobile
  • Overdrive, links to the library
  • Study Blue flash card creation, a free web service which has an app for students to create flash cards, or find already created ones to use.


  • Blackboard Catalyst Award Winner in 2012
  • EDUCAUSE Review Online

Graphic Novel Grant 2013-2014: Creating for Mobile

  • The first semester, the faculty member attempted to have his students use iBook author to create graphic novels. It was very difficult since iBook Author is built more for creating textbooks and not highly graphical books such as graphic novels.
  • Based on the feedback from the first semester, the faculty member used InDesign – Foliotool in CS6.

Social Media Grant 2013-2014: Mobile in Victorian Literature

  • Technology Used
    • iPad
    • Google + Communities
    • Classroom Salon
    • Puffin (browser)
    • Blackboard Mobile
  • Use of Dynamic Annotation
    • Classroom Salon, allows you to annotate over text.
    • Public and Private Annotation
    • Tagging
    • Collaboration with Carnegie Mellon
    • Commenting
    • Analytics
    • Personalized with Avatars
  • Uses of Google Communities (private group)
    • Role playing, adopting Victorian personas to use in their private Google + Community
    • Scavenger Hunt
    • Hashtags for assignments
    • Victorian Tea

What’s Next, Academic Year 2013-2014

  • Art Education: iPads for student teachers
  • Communication Arts: Computer Animation Techniques
  • English: Victorian Communities – continue to refine social media
  • Biology: lecture capture piloting Tegrity and Panopto and on-demand polling

Lessons Learned

  • Assessment is essential
  • Collaboration and Communication is key
  • Share the support
  • Embed sharing and support in Blackboard
  • Learn from others, share with others
  • BYOD is the reality
  • Students adopted Blackboard Mobile Learn (no prompting)
  • Convenient
  • Not a replacement for the laptop, yet
  • Opportunities to innovate

Make it Yours

  • There is an App for That
  • Make it fun! (Table Breakfasts…)
  • Innovation Grants (There are grants available out there! Start small…)
  • It will take a village.

Supporting Bboogle

Brian Nielsen from Northwestern University

A session on the Blackboard building block developed at Northwestern that integrates Blackboard and Google: Bboogle.

Brian created a BbWorld Session Community Site at Go to SIGN UP / “Are you a student?” Say yes, you are a student, go to Northwestern Unviersity, Cook / Brian Nelson and enter as GUEST.

What is Bboogle?

A powerful, simple building block that won the developers a Blackboard Catlyst Award in 2009. It is open source and eventually will actually be in the Blackboard Building Block Catalog by the end of this summer. It allows user to jump from Blackboard directly into Google Content. It also allows instructors to bring in Google Calendars, Docs, and Sites directly into their course. On the tools menu on the “My Courses” Page as well as the Tools Area in courses, there are links to Google Apps Docs, Google Apps Calendars, and Google Apps Sites. Site or doc is collaboratively editable! When an instructor links to a google item, by default the file sharing permission is set to facilitate collaboration.

Knowledge can be co-created by students instead of just fed to them.

I am curious as to whether this might be a building block that would work at GRCC. The ability to link students directly to a collaborative Google site to build something like a living encyclopedia during a class would be so valuable in online courses for building community and making learning active.

Lucy Suchman and Bboogle

Currently a professor at Lancaster University, studied ethnography of Xerox PARC photocopy machine users and repair staff in her dissertation research. Her research on technology and human interaction is being used at Northwestern to find a more effective means of explaining Bboogle and its uses to their faculty.

The new strategy for depolyment and adoption at Northwestern is to explore with faculty what their graduate students will need to be successful and create together new types of activities where students will create collaborative projects. Using Bboogle requires thinking of teaching and learning in new ways – it is a tool for collaboration, not a tool for teaching in the traditional ways of thinking.

Future Bboogle Developments

Northwestern and the Bboogle team is looking for collaborators!

Bboogle Teams is being developed so that it may be used and included in the Blackboard Learn deployment later down the road and integrate with Blackboard groups. (Awesome!) This would allow groups to go directly into their Google Apps to build a team/group site, calendar, and documents.